ENVIRONMENTAL ASPECTS OF HYDROPOWER DEVELOPMENT IN UKRAINE
Nowadays, particular attention is paid to energy conservation, environmental friendliness and reliability of energy. The use of renewable energy sources, including both large and small hydropower, is a priority area in long-term energy development policy of the leading countries of the world.
The current state and prospects for hydropower development in Ukraine for the next decade are highlighted in the «Program of hydropower development for the period until 2026» (the Program), approved by the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on July 13, 2016.
The article considers the environmental aspects of the Program in the light of current law on Environmental Impact Assessment and UN Resolution A/RES/42/184 on International co-operation in the field of the environment. According to the documents, the environmental impact assessment is based on the analysis of the positive and negative impacts of the proposed project, plan or activity.
Hydropower is time-tested reliable technology for generating electricity without using fossil and nuclear fuel. It is characterized as guaranteed renewable energy technology as well as technology of significant service life and high operation reliability, predictability and security of operating modes, high mobility and availability. In addition, the International Energy Agency in its 2014 Energy Storage Roadmap advocates pumped-storage hydropower as the only possible commercial project for the purpose of accumulating electricity (stochastically generated by wind and solar power plants) on an industrial scale.
Yet against the background of obvious advantages, HPP reservoirs significantly affect the natural regime of rivers, as they change their hydrological and temperature regime, flood large areas, cause landslide processes on river banks. Construction of dams and reservoirs impedes fish migration, deteriorates water quality due to reduced flow, oxygen deficit, rise of blue-green algae etc. Hydropower facilities with large reservoirs are a serious intervention in the functioning of natural ecosystems. Therefore, implementation of the main tasks of the Program calls for environmental impact assessment of each hydropower project. The Program includes the reconstruction and technical upgrading of 76 existing hydro units of Dnieper and Dniester cascades that will be implemented without additional environmental impact.
The Program does not provide information on small hydropower development. Based on research carried out by the Institute for Renewable Energy, technical potential of small rivers of Ukraine is estimated at 375 MW with an annual electricity production of 1.27 TWh per year. These results take into account environmental constraints of current legislative framework of Ukraine and international agreements. Environmental restrictions on the use of water resource consider the key problems caused by the operation of small hydropower plants: change of the natural regime of the river in upstream and downstream areas, change in self-purification processes and water quality, blocking fish migration routes, impact on the flora and fauna, etc.
The current stage of hydropower development requires the implementation of a number of organizational and technological measures to minimize environmental risks.
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